The best way to deal with an eviction is to fight it before you’re forced to leave your home.
Not everyone who fights will win, though. And after you’re evicted, the nightmare isn’t over. Having an eviction on your record can create hardships into the future, right as you’re trying to get back on your feet.
Even in these difficult circumstances, there are some steps you can take to mitigate the damage of an eviction.
Is There a Permanent Record of My Eviction?
Yes, there will be a permanent record of your eviction. If your case made it to court, it will show up in civil court records.
More importantly, your eviction is likely to show up when your future landlord orders a rental history report on you from tenant screening services or credit reporting bureaus. It’s likely to include three components:
- Rental history report
- Credit report or credit score
- Criminal background check
The rental history report itself will contain information about where you’ve lived, including any evictions. Usually, information falls off of this report after seven years.
As for your credit report, technically an eviction doesn’t show up there. However, if your landlord has been reporting late rent to the credit bureaus, that will show up. Your landlord could also report any money a judge orders you to pay as part of the civil case associated with your eviction.
Consequences of an Eviction
Attorney Patience Kaysee-Saydee of Kaysee Legal Group says that any landlord can potentially pull your rental history as a part of the application process. If the landlord is a large property management company, they are particularly likely to check.
“But it’s not impossible to rent after you have a negative item on your rental history,” says Kaysee-Saydee.
Some landlords will allow you to explain your eviction situation. If you’re willing to pay a higher security deposit, they may still be willing to let you lease.
That’s not exactly easy, especially if you owe back rent. Many people who have experienced an eviction move in with family for a while in order to right their finances. This gives you time to save up for that initial security deposit.
How to Move Forward with an Eviction on Your Record
There are a few additional things you should be doing during this interim period, too.
Yes, you’re staying with friends or family to save money. But paying even a nominal amount of rent to your host can help you get your foot in the door with future landlords.
Kaysee-Saydee says it’s important to have a written record of both your informal rental agreement and payments you are making to your friend or family member. This paperwork can be used to demonstrate your responsibility to potential landlords further down the line.
Work on Your Credit
Negative line items will fall off your credit report within seven years. But you don’t necessarily have to wait that long.
If you’re able, attempt to make financial amends with the landlord who evicted you. Once you’ve started to make good on your arrangement, you can write a goodwill letter. This letter requests that any late rents or other items reported by your landlord to the credit bureaus be removed.
You can attempt the same process for your rental history report.
The landlord is not under a legal obligation to grant your request. But it’s worth a shot.
Even if your credit report and rental history cannot be immediately repaired, making things right with your former landlord serves another purpose. If you‘re on good terms, you can ask them for a letter of reference.
This letter of reference may speak to the fact that although you ran into financial difficulties, you either have or are in the process of making things right. The fact that the person who evicted you is vouching for your character can go a long way.
Secure a Job
When you have an eviction on your record, your landlord is particularly likely to want proof that you make enough money to cover your rent.
Kaysee-Saydee says most landlords will want to see at least three months of paystubs. Build in a buffer for this three-month period when you are discussing living arrangements with your interim host.
If you’re having trouble finding a job during the pandemic, be sure to check out our work-from-home job listings and consider a bridge job to keep some money coming in.
Identify a Cosigner
Kaysee-Saydee notes that some landlords may require a cosigner after finding an eviction on your record. Having a cosigner could also help you dodge increased security deposits in some instances.
“The ideal cosigner could be your partner, spouse, parent or other friend or family member,” says Kaysee-Saydee. “They will need to have a clean record and be able to prove their income.”
Your cosigner is taking on financial responsibility should you fall short on rent. It’s a big responsibility, and not everyone you ask will be willing or able to take it on.
Coming Out On the Other Side of an Eviction
Losing your home is a traumatic experience. As you’re going through it, you might feel like you’re walking through a fog even as you’re being asked to make decisions that impact your future housing opportunities.
You can speed up the recovery process by being proactive both before and after the eviction. Lawyer up. Find a friend or family member who can offer you a place to stay for a while. While you’re there, actively take steps to improve your financial situation.
This will undoubtedly still be a difficult time in your life. But taking active steps to improve what you can makes a comeback a whole lot more likely.
Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.